State grant helps bring processing plant to Lancaster County, but does it hurt neighboring businesses?

BAINBRIDGE, Pa. (WHTM) – It’s huge.

It’s shiny and bright.

And Perdue’s newest plant in Bainbridge is being called a modern technological marvel.

“It’s the nation’s most advanced soybean processing facility and it’s right here in Lancaster County,” said Michelle Marsh of the Lancaster Solid Waste Management Authority, which is teaming up with the plant to utilize waste-to-energy steam.

Monday’s ribbon cutting included company patriarch Jim Perdue, of chicken commercial fame, a proud Gov. Tom Wolf, and promises of 35 full-time jobs at the plant.

“It’s a great win for central Pennsylvania,” a beaming Wolf said at the ribbon cutting. “I want to thank Perdue, the Perdue family, and the company for being here. This is a great thing.”

The plant cost $60 million. A taxpayer-funded state grant kicked in $8.75 million of it.

“Why did we take taxpayer money, my money, your money and give it to a very wealthy company and say come here and go into business against our companies? Why would we do that?” asked Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams), who said he has constituents who are smaller soybean processors that now must compete with that shiny new plant. Moul said they fear getting crushed like a soybean and are crushed that their tax dollars helped lure and fund their competition.

Moul said they fear getting crushed like a soybean and are crushed that their tax dollars helped lure and fund their competition.

Rep. Will Tallman (R-Adams/Cumberland) says more than 35 jobs could ultimately be lost if existing plants are shuttered.

“The state is definitely picking winners and they’re picking Perdue over Pennsylvania companies, which I don’t understand from a job creation standpoint or any other economic standpoint you can come up with,” Tallman said.

The Perdue grant was approved years ago by then-Gov. Ed Rendell and through the process has been supported by conservative Republican lawmakers in the Lancaster County delegation. Progress for some, it appears, comes at a price for others.

“We spent almost $9 million to cost Pennsylvania jobs,” said Tallman, convinced the new plant will put competitors out of business.

But Wolf insists a state grant of $8.75 million that attracted Perdue’s investment of more than $50 million is money well spent.

“These are competitive grants that are used to try to bring investment to Pennsylvania,” Wolf spokesman JJ Abbott said. “So maybe some folks would be OK with a plant like this going to Maryland or West Virginia, but it’s important that it’s here in Pennsylvania.”

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